Online Catering Program Course Details

Penn Foster Career School’s Catering program consists of ten units of study to help you gain the knowledge and skills relevant in the culinary industry. Catering classes will cover basic culinary training, as well as how to prepare everything from appetizers to a ten-course meal.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students to prepare meals for friends, families, and others, while also beginning students on their journey to starting their own catering business.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...
  • Know the services commonly offered at catered events and identify a wide range of styles of events
  • Recognize market research, management styles, branding, and how to create written agreements
  • Recognize many types of alcoholic beverages, the history of beer and wine, and the characteristics of the most popular categories of wine
  • Identify the elements of buffet design and setup
  • Understand the basics of food and nutrition and of monitoring food safety and sanitation practices
  • Understand the basic principles of modifying and converting recipes
  • Comprehend what is needed to choose the correct equipment and tools
  • Know how to plan menus, ensure quality of meals, and season and cook food according to recipes
  • Understand preparation, cooking, garnishing, and presentation of food
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
This introductory lesson will introduce you to catered events.


  • Describe the levels of catering.
  • Assess clients’ needs.
  • Create written agreements.
Catering deals not only with cooking but also with beverages and table service.


  • Learn about wine and beverage service.
  • Identify important etiquette associated with catering.
  • Study fast cleanup techniques.
Become a food artist!


  • Describe food presentation style and design techniques.
  • Garnish meals.
This lesson teaches everything you’ll need to know about serving alcoholic beverages.


  • Create an efficient bar layout and operation.
  • Use marketing strategies to maximize profitability.
  • Identify intoxication warning signs.
  • Describe legal concerns associated with serving alcohol.
Plan your career path by learning about the jobs available to culinary professionals.


  • Learn about the French kitchen brigade.
  • Understand foodborne illnesses.
  • Develop balanced menus.
  • Learn how to develop a foundation of flavor.
  • Understand nutrition and food science.
  • Describe food and kitchen safety.
  • Measure ingredients and convert recipe yields.
  • Calculate edible portion quantity and cost.
  • Identify kitchen equipment and its use.
Learn about the ideal layout and design of a gourmet kitchen.


  • Design, setup and present buffets.
  • Understand the goals of the presentation.
  • Identify simple garnishes.
  • Create basic and advanced food presentations.
In your first cooking lab supplement, you’ll sear beef with arugula and onions to create a delicious dish.
In this cooking lab, you'll caramelize onions to create a caramelized onion frittata, and present your dish with one of the beautiful presentation options in this supplement. You'll slice onions, determine if eggs are fresh, sun dry tomatoes, and learn the difference between an omelet, a quiche, and a frittata.
Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: The Professional Chef

Video: Chef Skills

In this course, you'll learn the fundamental recipes for making stocks, sauces, and soups, and to appreciate subtle nuances of flavor and texture.


  • Identify and use bouquet garni, sachet d’épices, mirepoix, and clarified butter.
  • Prepare stocks and sauces
  • Learn about soup ingredients and preparation.
This course teaches the essentials about fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and the primary cooking methods.


  • Identify fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
  • Prepare and cook basic vegetables.
  • Understand the effects of herbs in recipes.
You will stir fry beans in this cooking lab. Stir frying is one of the oldest cooking methods in the world. Choose accompaniments for your dish, and create delicious sauces.
Additional Unit Material

Video: Stir-Fried Beans

In this course you'll learn to cook remarkable, mouth-watering recipes for beef, veal, lamb, and pork.


  • Learn about mise en place for beef.
  • Understand the elements of beef and lamb fabrication.
  • Identify cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork.
  • Cook, plate, and serve beef, pork, lamb, and veal.
  • Learn how to braise meat.
  • Understand the principles of curing pork.
Create a creamy, delicious layer of béarnaise sauce with thin, carefully placed slices of filet—seared to perfection—accompanied by olive-shaped château potatos.
In this cooking lab, you'll create a French rack of lamb served with mint chutney.
Additional Unit Material

Video: Filet with Red Wine Mushrooms

This course will teach you how to add variety to your diet by preparing different cuts of poultry and cooking it using various methods.


  • Identify various cuts of poultry.
  • Learn about poultry fabrication and trussing.
  • Roast, deep poach, and sauté poultry to experiment with different flavors.
  • Identify types of game.
Prepare a chicken breast stuffed with cheese, olives, and herbs. Then, prepare chicken breasts using the alternative recipes and presentation options presented in this cooking lab.
Additional Unit Material

Video: Stuffed Chicken Breast

In this course, you’ll learn to take advantage of the wealth of available fish and shellfish by experimenting with the many preparation techniques to create light, healthful fish and shellfish dishes.


  • Identify, clean, and prepare fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish.
  • Boil, broil, and fry fish and shellfish.
In this cooking lab, prepare a whole striped sea bass stuffed with herbs.
Additional Unit Material

Video: Seared Tuna

This course will familiarize you with the many flavors and textures of legumes, grains, and pasta.


  • Identify different types of grains, legumes, and pasta.
  • Cook, simmer, and sort grains.
  • Use dried and fresh legumes.
  • Make your own fresh pasta, and determine what sauce goes best with your fresh, homemade pasta.
  • Cook pasta.
Cook Sesame Shiitake Noodles, a delicious, robust dish with garlic, ginger, and shiitake mushrooms. Select a grater, and learn about different types of ginger.
This course will teach you how to create delicious baked goods.


  • Identify the ingredients most often used in baking.
  • Identify the differences between yeast breads and quick breads.
  • Cook sugar and whip egg whites.
  • Prepare pastries, cookies, dessert sauces, and creams.
In this cooking lab, create a delicious phyllo pear tart with a beautiful presentation and pair it with dessert wine!
In this final course of gourmet cooking, you’ll learn about breakfast delights, tasty sandwiches, appetizers, and hors d’oeuvres, as well as culinary practices around the world.


  • Learn about dairy products and eggs.
  • Make eggs, omelets, soufflés, and quiche.
  • Compare a soft-boiled egg and a poached egg.
  • Describe the primary elements of garde manger.
  • Create charcuterie.
  • Learn about the culinary traditions of the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
In this cooking lab, prepare an entire meal of red cabbage and spinach salad, salmon in parchment with shrimp and peppers, and chartreuse melon with berries. Each piece of the meal will come out on time and delicious!

Additional Details

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.
Graduates of our Caterer Program can take the National Restaurant Association (NRA) ServSafe Food Handler online training course and certification exam at no additional cost. This certification is required for anyone working in an environment that involves food handling.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

Surround Sound Support

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.
Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools
Penn Foster Student Community

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Caterer Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Catering course would look like.
Sample Caterer Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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